Carolinas lead the country in green energy investments, according to new book

NORTH CAROLINA — According to the new book “Clean Economy Now,” North Carolina and South Carolina are seeing tens of billions in capital investments to kickstart projects in the state, which should bring thousands of jobs to the states.

With nearly 300 major manufacturing projects announced nationwide in the year and a half following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, author Bob Keefe said he wanted to publish something to document this rapid growth in the clean energy sector.

“To me, climate action is also economic action. This is about creating jobs, this is about economic growth,” said Keefe, who is also the executive director of the non-profit E2.

One of the most obvious patterns he found tracking these projects was the level of investment in the southeast.

“North Carolina is at the front of the pack,” he said. “North Carolina has attracted more clean energy investments from the IRA than any other state in the country.”

He said the region’s manufacturing history, pro-growth policies, and a large, skilled workforce make the southeast attractive to investors. The electric vehicle and battery sectors, in particular, have seen rapid growth in the Carolinas due to the rise in auto manufacturing in the past few decades.

Keefe compares the level of rapid manufacturing development to the Industrial Revolution and believes the investment is an opportunity to catch up with advanced manufacturing across the globe.

“We finally in this country are passing policies that can not only address the climate crisis, but are bringing America up to speed and making it competitive once again in what is a $23 trillion global market,” he said. “The world is already moving in this direction, the United States is far behind in areas that, frankly, we invented.”

Keefe said this growth is not guaranteed, however. He worries rolling back IRA policies could stymie development and put investments in jeopardy. In his book, he discusses the potential funding and regulatory barriers these industries face.

“This isn’t a partisan issue,” he said. “There aren’t blue state jobs, these aren’t red state jobs, these are red, white and blue jobs and they’re happening in the Carolinas.”

Clean Economy Now goes on sale on April 2.

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Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini, wsoctv.com

Michelle is a climate reporter for Channel 9.